The New York Rangers won’t need their arbitration hearing for Brendan Lemieux, as the two sides have come to a new agreement. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the Rangers have signed Lemieux to a two-year contract that carries an average annual value of $1.55MM. The young forward’s hearing had been scheduled for today, with Lemieux filing for $2MM and the Rangers looking for a two-year contract with an AAV just over 1.01MM. This falls almost right in the middle, where arbitration likely would have landed anyway.
Lemieux, 24, scored 18 points in 59 games last season but was among the league leaders in penalty minutes, racking up 111 of them as an in-your-face pest every night. He won’t play a scoring role with the Rangers but doesn’t kill you at even strength and provides some bite to the bottom of the lineup.
With the new contract signed, the Rangers now have about $4.8MM in cap space and all of their players locked up. If they want to spend a little on free agency they have that ability, though with some big extensions coming up in the next few years it may be wise to only take on short-term money.
Speaking of money, the Rangers will now receive a second buyout window on Sunday where they could potentially free up even more cash. Brendan Smith is really the only candidate left, though at this point it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. A buyout would only save them a little more than $1.5MM in cap space this season, not a lot more than they would get by burying Smith in the minor leagues again. Taking on the buyout penalty in 2021-22 that would come along doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Instead, the Rangers may just look ahead with their roster set and next season representing a new chance. Loaded with young talent all over the roster, New York should be considered a playoff contender.